Spring Cleaning...

Since I made some good progress on a memo I'm working on, I feel that it's an appropriate time to procrastinate.

Hello again, folks. Things have been quite busy, as I've been traveling back and forth and working 7 days a week. Before the barrage of work, I managed to do something that I've been wanting to do for quite some time--reorganizing my closet space. I'm sure that most women who live in an apartment in the city can relate to the closet issues I'm having. As I accumulate more and more clothing, it became harder and harder to find things. And if I can't find them, I end up wearing them less and less, which means the cost-per-wear ratio is not going in the direction I would like. Like they say, out of sight, out of mind--this holds true no matter how much I love those forsaken articles of clothing. Hence, I wanted to find a way to make sure I see the whole collection.

I didn't take a "before" photograph of the whole closet, so I'll have to paint some of the picture in words. I have a fair amount of space in my walk-in closet, which is basically one small room with hanger poles on 3 of the walls and a wooden plank right above it. Unfortunately, it is difficult to access the portion behind the door, which is 1/3 of the closet. Therefore, I store the less frequently worn items (such as outerwear, ski gear, and special occasion tops and dresses) in those spaces. In the more accessible areas, I hang the things that wrinkle easily, and things I wear the most often or need in a hurry, things like hoodies, work tops, and suits.

As for the shelves above the hanging poles, I stored shoes, miscellenous items (such as scarves and socks) in tupperware, towels, and bedding. The latter two categories are stowed away in Sterlite plastic drawers, which are weighed down by books. I chose the drawers because I wanted to reach things easily without having to remove stacks and stacks of whatnot from above. I like to think that I'm using those shelf spaces pretty wisely.

Right below the hanging poles and all that dangling fabric, I had a laundry hamper by the door, then a plastic 3-drawer cart to the left of that, followed 2 suitcases against the wall, and a pile of junk in the dead-center of the closet. The suitcases contain items that are not suitable for the current weather, or just things that I no longer wear but want to hang onto for whatever reason. That usage is fine, but clearly, I was not making the most efficient use of that dead-center space. I can't believe I allowed prime real estate to be populated by junk.

In between the accessible and less-accessible areas, I hung a couple of those wrap-around-the-pole-and-hang-down canvas sweater shelf-thingies, along with a couple of those wrap-around-the-pole-and-hang-down canvas shoe-holders.

One of those said sweater shelf-thingies held jeans and some of my purses, while the other held t-shirts and sweaters that were fairly low maintenance. Unfortunately, the shelf-things sagged with weight over time, and being jam-packed with clothing with little room to expand, a lot of my clothes became buried, wrinkled, and hidden. It became a chore to shove clothes into the shelves, and it was even more difficult to pull things out of them. Alas, I didn't have the time to worry about sorting it out, and much less the money on organizing tools. Those Sterlite drawers came from Big Lots, but they weren't exactly cheap, so I couldn't just go out and get a bunch of them.

Things came to a head about a month or so ago. Since I don't have much time these days and I'm sick of finding presentable clothes for work, I decided that it was time to do a closet overhaul. I knew that I needed to chuck those hanging sweater-holders and get some drawers, which would enable me to store clothes more neatly and reach them more quickly. I also knew that the drawers had to have wheels for mobility, because from time to time I need to reach the suitcases.

Besides being fed up with the situation, it was the perfect time to do an overhaul because Target was having a sale on the plastic drawers that I needed. On top of that, my mom had a coupon for some percentage (or dollars) off for purchases over $25, which was sent out in the mail in an effort to coax customers to a newly-opened Target. I took that coupon and went to that newly-opened Target, and apparently there was a lot of like-minded customers who wanted to reorganize their homes--many of shelves of organizing containers were cleaned out. I ended up snagging a lavendar-colored set of drawers from the children's section for about $25. I also picked up some hangers. A few days later, I snagged a sturdy white 2-drawer cart (on sale, of course) from another Target. When I got home, I happily took down one of the hanging holders and reorganized away--out went the clothes I no longer wore, and the remainder settled into the drawers. I moved the laundry basket to a different location and moved the drawer carts around to find the best fit. The shoes stayed in place.

By the time I was done, my closet felt so much more open. There was a lot more hanging space next to the shoes (that's where the hanging shelves used to be), and I could actually find clothes easily in the drawers. The prime real estate is now taken up by the 2-drawer cart instead of jumk. It wasn't planned, but it was also nice to have color-coordinated drawer carts.

But I wasn't quite done. There was still the issue of the hanging shelf-thingie that held the jeans and bags. The jeans are quite heavy, and a cart would not have been able to hold everything, so I got one of those ubiquitous wire cube organizers. It was a royal pain to assemble the whole thing, and when I was finished, I realized that there isn't enough space for the whole set-up. So I only kept a 3-shelf tower and stuck it into the closet. Fortunately, it worked out very nicely--the wire racks were sturdy enough to hold the jeans, and roomy enough for me to stick my purses into.

For now, I can live with this. There is still much work to be done. Some of the clothes inside the suitcases really need to go, but that can wait a little longer. And then there's the matter of the over-the-door hangers. The one behind the closet door is fine...

...but check out the one behind my bedroom door.

I'll have to wash the scarves and put them away in some tupperware. That's where they used to belong.

I cleaned out a large portion of the closet just in time. In the following weeks (yes, that's plural), I went out and "restocked." More on that next time. The restocking is more fun to talk about anyway.


Still here...sort of

Sorry for the delays in posting, but I've been out of town for depositions and need to get caught up on work. I'll post again next week.

In the meantime, enjoy the sunny weather if the sun is out in your locale. And enjoy reading my favorite blogs!


Spring Thing

I love the drive to work in the morning, particular around this time of the year. I'm going against traffic, and I get to see a lot of greenery. There's a lot of rolling green hills around, and it just feels like Spring. And it makes me happy.

But the weather hasn't really felt like Spring. It's been overcast and cold. Even though I've been wearing vibrant spring colors, they were hidden under coats and sweaters.

Today is quite a contrast. Talk about irony--I went out to the Mike & Chris sample sale to stock up on some much-needed winter staples, and I walked into a heat wave. I figured that I didn't need a jacket since if I get cold, I'll just wear one of the ones I would be buying. Good thing I settled with that twisted logic. Had I worn another layer, I would have cooked.

Florals is always "in" every Spring, but I've never really been a florals person. Sure, I have a few floral print dresses, but as far as tops goes, I don't wear a whole lot of patterns. But when I dropped off some stuff at the Goodwill last weekend, I found some florals that I could wear:

(Vintage top/J Brand jeans that I've been wearing all the time/Gryson for Target bag/my own bracelet/Target flats from the last post)

This was a pretty incredible vintage find. I picked it out about 5 minutes before closing time. There are no tags, so it's probably handmade. The embroidery is really exquisite, and the design does not look old-fashioned at all, as some embroidered items can appear. At under $5, it was almost literally a steal. I thought that I'd have to wait a while before I can wear it, but today's weather gave me a chance to wear it sooner.

Spring is also a time for Spring Cleaning. I'll talk about it next time.


Walking on Vice

I have to admit that a lust for shoes has always been one of my vices. So what's changed? Well...it's becoming a more expensive vice. You see, my shoe budget hasn't just inched. It took quite a leap.

Up until now, I just didn't spend more than $30 for shoes. And I couldn't understand why some women would spend hundreds of dollars for shoes. But now that I work near a DSW that stocks some high-end shoes, I can begin to understand why. Some of those shoes look really, really hot. They're well-constructed, for the most part, and the leather feels phenomenal. And they're shiny, too. The price tag, on the other hand...not so hot.

Recently, I happened to visit DSW during double-points time. I didn't really expect to find anything that day, but wanted to look around anyway. Lo and behold, I found some cute, cute shoes. And they were over $30. What to do, what to do? I was going to buy only one or the other, but in the end, I simply couldn't walk away from either, so I bought them both. I couldn't believe I spent that much on shoes that day (that would have been the budget for half a dozen pairs), but I think the purchases were good choices, given how many times I've worn them already.

Usually I eschew logos. When I see anything with logos, I tend to run far, far away...why would I pay a lot of money just to become someone's walking billboard? Besides, they can look rather tacky. So it was with very ambivalent feelings that I approached these Coach flats. I've seen them before they went on sale and found them incredibly cute (I fell hard for the little shoelace detail), but I wasn't going to pay a hundred bucks for them. But at around $50, all of a sudden I dared to try them on. They were perfect, especially after I've spent days in high heels. Those flats were very cushiony like my Vans, except I can wear these to work on a regular basis and with pair them with dressy outfits. They ended up working quite well with casual outfits as well:

The first and last looks were for work, while the middle one was a weekend look since it was too crazy for work. I've also worn them in this post.

The ultimate budget breaker (around $80) is by far the most expensive pair I own. But given what it is, it was too good to pass up:

The road to perdition is paved with...gold?

Like the Coach flats, I admired them from afar when they were full-priced and didn't dare try them on until they wound up on clearance. The color and the industrial-looking streaks were what got my attention at first.

Not all "luxury" shoes are made equal. I've tried on a pair of Givenchy pumps and they hurted. I tried on a pair of Pucci flats, and while they were cute, the sole was very hard. I tried on a pair of Moschino Cheap and Chic, and while they were very chic, they were not cheap, and they were not entirely comfortable, either. These golden flats, however, felt luxurious and comfortable. I love the little rubber heel (which cuts down on the clackety-clack noises) and the smooth silk lining.

I also wore them in the aforementioned other post with my gray tunic, but here it is in a casual outfit:

After that sticker shock, I went back to my cheap shoes. I had to buy a pair on the fly when I had to go to court and my black pumps were all unavailable, so I walked into Payless and walked out with a pair in 5 minutes. I didn't just walk in and pick up any pair--I bought them because they were exactly what I wanted--sophisticated but fun, for 17 bucks. They were fairly comfortable since they don't pinch my toes, but I would learn a week later that they were not suitable for long treks across cobblestone at one particular courthouse (ouch). They're still great to wear around the office, however.

Then I went back my true cheapskate roots--the $6 shoes. In the past, I've had pretty good luck with finding shoes for $6.24 from the Target clearance section. My luck struck again when I picked up these cute flats with the awesome hardware. I really liked them when they were $14, but given the number of pairs of shoes I've acquired recently, I didn't think it was worth it. But when I went to Target to buy a mop, I found them further marked-down and just couldn't resist. They are truly comfortable and I love them.

I was doing pretty well with keeping it cheap until yesterday. Remember how I went to DSW on double-points day? Well, I had enough points to get a $10 off coupon in the mail. So what did I do with it? I went back to give DSW more of my hard-earned cash. I found this pair of hot Calvin Klein pumps, which I promptly wore to work today:

The non-stilletto heel is more stable and comfortable, while the bit of cushioning at the balls of my feet made them also more comfortable. They look absolutely professional, while the subtle (patent trim) and not-so-subtle (big honking hardware...what is it with me and metal?) add a healthy dose of fashionable edge. But these shoes were about $50. What happened to "cutting back"?

Moral of the story? I should just stay out of shoe stores and look for the black pants that I actually need.


8 Things

Yulanda tagged me to do this survey. Now that I've given it some thought, here goes...

8 things I'm passionate about:

1) Social justice
2) Conservation
3) Making things
4) Food (both cooking and eating)
5) Dancing
6) Living life to the fullest
7) Fashion
8) Trying new things

8 things I want to do before I die:

1) Fly in a hot air balloon
2) Travel around the world
3) Learn tap dancing, and salsa too
4) Have a giant block party with all of my family and friends, especially the ones I haven't seen for a long time
5) Learn to sing
6) Learn to sew
7) Climb the Half Dome at Yosemite and then Australian-rappel back down (I only know how to rappel down the easy way)
8) Bask in the Tuscan sun and fill up on authentic pasta afterwards

(There's a lot I'd like to learn, that's for sure.)

8 Things I say often:

1) Ya know what I'm sayin'?
2) How's it going?
3) Cool
4) Bring it (when the going gets tough, that is...it's not like I like to go out looking for a fight)
5) Thanks
6) I need a nap
7) Oooh, pretty!
8) Hmm. Weird.

8 Books I've read lately:

Sadly, I haven't had the time to read lately. I used to love to read...nowadays it's down to newspapers and magaines, but here goes my list of "recent" reads...

1) A Civil Action
2) The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
3) How to Be a Budget Fashionista (read it for a book review)
4) The Darwin Awards II
5) One Hundred Years of Solitude
6) The Bonesetter's Daughter
7) and 8)--I honestly can't remember. Must be something law-related.

8 Songs I can listen to over and over again:

1) Minor Swing -- as played by my friend Jonathan Stout
2) Temptation Waits -- Garbage
3) I Will Survive -- as performed by the Puppini Sisters
4) Paper Bag -- Fiona Apple
5) Shake Ya Boggie -- Mocean Worker
6) Four Trucks Sitting in the Snow -- Paper Airplanes
7) Paper Planes -- M.I.A.
8) Jet Lag -- Joss Stone

8 Things that attract me to my best friends:
1) kindness (to one and all)
2) intelligence
3) humor
4) loyalty
5) honesty
6) shared interests
7) thoughtfulness
8) strength of character

I'm tagging...


Vested Interest

Just a quick update from my last post. I mentioned that the sweater vest has potential for a casual outfit. This is one illustration. I wore it to work, but it could be considered as a weekend look. The large patches of black makes it look more formal, but jeans and a colorful necklace (with pink and red beads) add a bit of lightheartedness.

This outfit would have looked better if my jeans didn't get all bunched up at the knees. It looks worse in the picture than it really is.